by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Felix Hernandez made his return from the DL, though he struggled, allowing 5 ER on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 6.2 IP (the big blow was a three-run home run from Todd Frazier in the top of the first). Drew Pomeranz’ first start for the Red Sox proved to be a disaster, allowing 5 R on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 3.0 IP (he allowed 6 H and 1 BB to open the fourth inning before being pulled). There were also some impressive hitting performance:
- Anthony Rizzo delivered a pair of home runs against Bartolo Colon, finishing 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R
- Hanley Ramirez led Boston’s attack, going 3-4 with 3 HR, 6 RBI and 3 R
- Jedd Gyorko went 4-7 with 3 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R in a double-header, as he continued to plague his former team
What else happened on the field? Let’s take a look:
1) Anthony Desclafani with another impressive outing…
A breakout candidate prior to the season, Desclafani is proving have been worth the wait as he improved to 5-0 with a 2.50 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over his first 8 starts (50.1 IP). Taking on the Braves he allowed 2 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 3 (all of which were Freddie Freeman), over 8.0 IP. He’s now allowed 3 ER or fewer in all of his starts. You can argue that there’s been a little bit of luck, as he entered the day with an 81.4% strand rate, but his .333 BABIP (courtesy of a 20.2% line drive rate) was reasonable if not unlucky. He also had a 7.87 K/9 and 1.91 BB/9, as he’s generating swings and misses (9.9% SwStr%, with 13 swinging strikes yesterday). While there could be a little bit of a regression at some point, he’s well worth utilizing in all formats.
2) Has Addison Russell finally figured it out…
He went 3-3 with 2 RBI yesterday and is now 11-31 with 6 RBI and 2 R over his past eight games. Obviously we’d like to see more in the counting stats, but he has struck out just 6 times over this span. Considering he entered the day with a 24.6% strikeout rate, that’s a good sign. Of course he also entered the day with an 18.0% SwStr% and 41.3% O-Swing% in July, so the number may be a bit deceiving. He has been hitting the ball hard (24.4% line drive rate), so there is room for his average to continue to improve (.296 BABIP) assuming he can continue making consistent contact. With that in question, there’s a good chance this “hot” streak is more aberration than reality. There’s a ton of upside long-term, but it seems unlikely he fully realizes it in 2016.
3) Tyler Naquin leads the Indians attack of Kansas City…
The Indians hit 5 HR, scoring 11 runs on 10 hits. It was Naquin who led the way, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 2 R. He’s now hitting .324 with 12 HR and 29 RBI, leading to the question of if he is truly this good or not. The average is obviously unsustainable, considering these numbers (entering the day):
- Strikeout Rate – 29.3%
- SwStr% – 12.2%
- Line Drive Rate – 21.7%
- BABIP – .415
As for the power, he had hit 7 HR in 256 PA at Triple-A over the past two seasons and entered the day with a 27.0% HR/FB. There is obvious upside, but you may never get a better chance to sell (especially in redraft formats). Try to sell high before the regressions begins.
4) Chris Archer dazzle at Coors Field…
A lot of owners likely had him on their bench for this one, given the location and his year to date production. However his teammates gave him ample support (11 R on 16 H) and Archer looked like the ace of 2015. Over 6.0 innings he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 11 (courtesy of 17 swinging strikes). Are we ready to deem him “back” off of one impressive outing? Obviously not, but we can hope that it’s a step in the right direction. The big key was keeping the ball in the ballpark, having entered with a 1.53 HR/9. His control hasn’t been quite as good (3.76 BB/9) and there has been a little “poor” luck (.315 BABIP, 20.4% line drive rate), but it all comes back to the long ball. If he avoids it he should be able to produce. If he doesn’t, it’s going to continue to be a long season.
5) Another less than stellar performance from Daniel Mengden…
While Doug Fister thrived (7.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K), Mengden struggled against Houston. Lasting just 5.0 innings he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 5 BB, striking out 5. After a strong start the wheels have come off in his four July starts, allowing 19 ER on 24 H and 14 BB over 18.1 IP. It’s been ugly and you have to wonder how many starts (if any) the A’s are going to give him. There’s still upside and maybe he can figure it back out at some point, but for now fantasy owners in most formats can safely cut bait and move on.
6) Mike Zunino has returned to the Majors…
While Leonys Martin had the bigger day (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), it’s Zunino’s HR (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) that’s a bit more noteworthy. He’s produced in limited opportunities in the Majors (.273 with 3 HR in 11 AB), which is a continuation of what he was doing at Triple-A (.286 with 17 HR in 327 PA). The key to his success is going to be his ability to make consistent contact, as he had his strikeout rate down to 21.1% prior to rejoining the Mariners. He did strikeout twice yesterday and owns a 32.0% mark in the Majors, so we don’t want to label him as having fixed the issue quite yet. Still the upside is there and it’s possible Seattle looks to see if he can be the solution at catcher for 2017. In two-catcher formats the power potential makes him worth the risk.
7) Marcus Stroman delivers a strong outing…
He certainly outpitched Patrick Corbin (5.2 IP, 6 R, 9 H, 2 BB, 4 K), allowing just 1 R on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 8.0 IP. He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in three of his past four starts (though there was one dud mixed in), giving hope that he’s finally started to turn things around. He’s never going to generate a monstrous number of strikeouts (9 swinging strikes yesterday), but he’s going to use his control and groundballs (14 vs. 4 fly balls) to get the job done. He entered the day with a 2.54 BB/9 and 59.6% groundball rate, though a .310 BABIP and 64.5% strand rate. Without the strikeouts he’s not going to be elite, but he should be better than his current 4.90 ERA. Don’t be surprised if he continues to produce over the remainder of the season.
8) A strong showing from Michael Pineda…
He tossed 6.0 shutout innings against the Orioles, allowing 5 H and 2 BB while striking out 8. It was a much needed performance, as he had allowed 10 ER over 11.0 IP in his previous two starts, but what makes us think this is truly the start of a turnaround (he owns a 5.25 ERA and 1.35 WHIP)? The quick answer is that we can’t, especially with Baltimore without Chris Davis, Manny Machada and Matt Wieters. That said he still generated an impressive 22 swinging strikes, has had some poor luck (.342 BABIP, 68.4% strand rate) and his biggest issue has been home runs (1.52 HR/9), which we’d expect him to improve upon. There’s no guarantee, but there is enough upside to invest in him.
9) Could there be value in Hernan Perez the rest of the way…
He was in RF yesterday, but figures to see plenty of time at 3B as well until the team summons Orlando Arica (if they do). Hitting second he went 2-4 with 1 R and 1 SB, putting him at .273 with 5 HR, 24 RBI, 14 R and 11 SB over 150 AB. Of course he’s never shown much power coming up through the minors and his plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired. In fact with a 13.0% SwStr% and 43.5% O-Swing%, there’s a good chance that is 23.8% strikeout rate and 3.8% walk rate get even worse. Short-term you can utilize him if you are searching for a few SB, but don’t get overly excited.
10) Ryan Schimpf goes deep in both games of the double header…
While he didn’t start the second game he still provided some offense, as he combined to go 2-6, 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. He’s been playing regularly against right-handed pitching and has certainly provided a spark to the Padres offense as he’s hitting .227 with 7 HR and 13 RBI in just 75 AB (89 PA). He had 15 HR in 190 PA at Triple-A, and had hit 20+ each year since 2012, so there’s certainly some pop. While he currently has a 28.1% strikeout rate, there’s hope that he improves that as well given his good eye (12.4% walk rate) and strong underlying metrics:
- SwStr% – 10.1%
- O-Swing% – 24.9%
Maybe the home runs slow down, but he’s going to get an opportunity and is well worth owning at this point to see if he can keep it going.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs